As close as we are now to the lifting of lockdown restrictions in the UK, it seems there are different reports published every hour suggesting things will never return to ‘normal’ across the world. It can be overwhelming trying to digest ever changing visions of how our future will look. In today’s blog, I am going to look at varying information available online and try to understand what the future may look like in a post pandemic age.
In order to understand if and when life goes back to normal, we need to try and find out when the pandemic will end.
Have a look at the short video by Saidata Sesay from 6 August 2020.
In the video, Saidata Sesay proposes three ways the pandemic may end:
One - the virus may dwindle once we have ‘herd immunity’.
Two - we learn to live with it and it becomes a part of normal life with peak seasons just like the flu.
Three - the success of the global vaccine rollout means eventually the virus will die off as happened with smallpox in the 20th century.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2016 :
“The history of smallpox holds a unique place in medicine. It was one of the deadliest diseases known to humans, and to date (2016) the only human disease to have been eradicated by vaccination. The smallpox vaccine, introduced by Edward Jenner in 1796, was the first successful vaccine to be developed.”
The last case of smallpox was in 1977.
In the UK the vaccine rollout has been a huge success so far, with more people having their second vaccinations and first vaccines offered to everyone aged 50 and over. That is not the case across the world and so we might have to live with restrictions on our movement for a long while yet. Whilst every country is looking to source vaccines for its own citizens, it is imperative that we look after the rest of the world, in particular poorer countries too. Failure to do that will delay the chances of us ever living virus free.
It is speculation at best as to when the pandemic will end which means ‘normal life’ as we know it is a way off. But, and this is important, we can evolve to live with it and create a ‘new normal’.
On 4th February 2021, mirror.co.uk published a story: UK May Never Fully Return Back to Normal.
But what we can we do to ensure we get some sort of normality back?
We can learn from previous pandemics in Asia. Many people in Asian countries wear face masks as standard, making them part of their normal. Perhaps the same will become true of the UK too. If it means we can get out and about like we used to I can live with that.
As mentioned previously, coronavirus is going to affect our travel plans for some time. Large groups of people attending concerts, festivals and sporting events is an ambition for this summer, if I had to adapt to allow this to happen by wearing a mask, fewer people attending or attending in a smaller bubble then that is a small price to pay. The same goes for pubs, restaurants and nightclubs too.
Many of us will have already adapted our working lives due to the local and national lockdowns. It may well be, for example, that working from home, wearing masks to work in the hospitality sector or reducing the number of people on shift at the same time may well be the new normal. If these changes get us all back to work and boost local and national economies then again, I can live with that.
The biggest thing to take from the last year is finding the strength we never knew we had. I also think the sacrifices we have made will help manage expectations of returning to normal. More than a year since the first lockdown, going on holiday or to watch a live game of football are not at the top of my wish list. A simple hug, seeing family and friends in and outside of the home and being able to go to the gym would do me.
Eventually I think we will find our own ‘normal’.
As restrictions gradually ease, each phase will replace the last and start to feel like your ‘normal’. It looks like no one can agree on if and when we will ever be free of covid-19 and it’s variants, but what we can do is manage it with the hope that one day, with vaccines and changes to our culture, that we will live covid free. By the time that happens, what was normal last year may well be alien to us and not necessarily what we want.
If writing this blog has taught me one thing it would be that the virus cannot kill hope which is why we are all so keen to find out about returning to normal. Nothing will ever be quite the same after this, but we have a chance to learn from our experiences and create our own normal; one we can all comfortably live with.